“Language! It’s a virus!” multidisciplinary artist Laurie Anderson declares in her 1986 song “Language Is a Virus.” Batsheva Dance Company artistic director Ohad Naharin uses his trademark Gaga movement language to infectious triumph in his 2001 piece Naharin’s Virus, which has now been adapted for Batsheva – The Young Ensemble, trimmed down to a relatively lean sixty minutes and continuing at the Joyce through July 22. Don’t be scared off by the term “Youth Ensemble”; the large troupe of seventeen dancers and two apprentices are enthusiastic and energetic, well-trained performers — with many very likely to soon graduate to the senior company. As the crowd enters the theater, an inflatable white sky dancer swirls above its fan, a sly introduction to what is to follow: A female dancer traces parts of her body with chalk as she moves awkwardly along a blackboard at the back of the stage; Evyatar Omessy stands on a platform in a rigid suit, reciting text inspired by Peter Handke’s confrontational 1966 play, Offending the Audience, which places the viewer in uncomfortable contrast to the performer; dancers in unflattering, tight beige and black costumes form a row up front and break out into improvised, aggressive solos; performers share brief, intimate tales about their life and jump onto and hang from the blackboard, on which they have written words and phrases that evoke what is happening in the world today.
The show changes slightly from performance to performance, as dancers improvise in certain sections and can write and draw whatever they want on the blackboard, but one large word must be included, running the length of the board: “Plastelina,” the Hebrew word for “playdough” as well as a purposeful misspelling of Palestine, a reference to Naharin’s politics, which have been critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinian people. In addition, the work features Arab folk music by Shama Khader, Habib Allah Jamal, and Karni Postel, along with snippets of Samuel Barber, Carlos D’Alessio, P. Stokes, and P. Parsons. However, Naharin’s Virus is not meant to be controversial but instead a celebration of, among other things, ambiguity. “In the spirit of collaboration, Naharin’s Virus brings together the work of an Israeli-American choreographer, an Austrian writer, Arab and Israeli musicians, and dancers from around the world,” Naharin explains in a program note. “Even and especially in these divided times, the work reminds us that dance can act on universal ethics to create sublime moments that we could not have created alone.” In “Language Is a Virus,” Anderson explains, “Paradise / is exactly like / where you are right now / only much much / better”; with this new, updated version of Naharin’s Virus, Naharin has created another unique kind of paradise.
The free summer arts & culture season is under way, with dance, theater, music, art, film, and other special outdoor programs all across the city. Every week we will be recommending a handful of events. Keep watching twi-ny for more detailed highlights as well.
Sunday, July 15
Harlem Meer Performance Festival: Keith “the Captain” Gamble and the NU Gypsies, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, 2:00
Monday, July 16
Piano in Bryant Park: Daryl Sherman, July 16-20, Bryant Park, 12:30
Tuesday, July 17
High Line Art: Kerry Tribe Artist Talk, panel discussion with Kerry Tribe, moderated by Melanie Kress and Ana Traverso-Krejcarek, about Tribe’s Exquisite Corpse film, the High Line at Fourteenth St., 7:00
Wednesday, July 18
Outdoor Cinema: Black Mother (Khalik Allah, 2018) and Symphony of a Sad Sea (Carlos Morales Mancilla, 2018), Socrates Sculpture Park, with live performance at 7:00, film at sunset
Thursday, July 19
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot: Hamlet, starring Jane Bradley and directed by Karla Hendrick, Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk St., July 19-21 & 26-28, 6:30
Friday, July 20
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival: Anoushka Shankar, Land of Gold, My Brightest Diamond, Prospect Park Bandshell, 7:30
Saturday, July 21
Come Out & Play, Manhattan Bridge Archway Plaza, DUMBO, family-friendly activities 1:00 - 5:00, adult games 7:00 - 10:00
Sunday, July 22
SummerStage: Ginuwine, the Ladies of Pink Diamonds, and DJ Stacks, Corporal Thompson Park, Staten Island, 5:00
On July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the Bastille prison, a symbolic victory that kicked off the French Revolution and the establishment of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Ever since, July 14 has been a national holiday celebrating liberté, égalité, and fraternité. In New York City, the Bastille Day festivities are set for Sunday, July 15, along Sixtieth St., where the French Institute Alliance Française hosts its annual daylong party of food, music, dance, and other special activities. The celebration begins with a live screening of the World Cup Final in Florence Gould Hall and outside, where, as luck would have it, France vies for the coveted title. There will be a Summer in the South of France Tasting in FIAF’s Tinker Auditorium from 12 noon to 4:30 ($25), with wines from Sud de France, French beers from Kronenbourg, Président cheeses, Bayonne Ham, and artisan breads from Maison Kayser, as well as the elegant Champagne & Jazz Party in Le Skyroom at 1:30 and 3:30 ($65-$75), featuring Champagnes from Pol Roger, Ayala, Champagne Delamotte, and Besserat de Bellefon, cocktails from Grand Marnier, macarons from Ladurée, chocolates from Voilà Chocolat, and hors d’oeuvres from Maman Bakery, in addition to a live performance by Chloé Perrier. The annual raffle ($20) can win you such prizes as trips to Paris and Le Martinique or dinners at French restaurants.
Food, drink, and beauty and fashion items will be available in the French-themed market and the new French Garden from Jerome Dreyfuss, 727 Sailbags, L’atelier, Moutet, French Wink, Ladurée, Brasserie Cognac, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, Le Souk, Miss Madeleine, Oliviers & Co., Mille-feuille, Sel Magique, Simply Gourmand, St. Michel, Sud de France, Macaron Parlour, Pistache, Lunii, and others. The fête also includes roaming French mime Catherina Gasta, a kids corner with a library and arts & crafts, a photobooth, “An Ode for Freedom” interactive street art with Kinmx & Iljin, Can-Can Dancing with Karen Peled (12:45 & 2:10), a Caribbean Zouk dance lesson with Franck Muhel (4:25), the Citroën Classic Car Show, live performances by MarieLine Grinda (1:00), It’s Showtime NYC! (1:30), Jacques & Marie’s Paris Swing Band (2:30), the Hungry March Band (2:55), La Jarry (3:05), and Sense (3:55), and a sneak peek screening of Yvan Attal’s Le Brio ($14, 5:30) in Florence Gould Hall.
In 1990, choreographer, teacher, and Gaga movement-language developer Ohad Naharin was named artistic director of the Tel Aviv–based Batsheva Dance Company. Later that same year, he started Batsheva – The Young Ensemble as a training ground for emerging dancers. This weekend, Batsheva – The Young Ensemble is performing one of Naharin’s signature works, Naharin’s Virus, at Jacob’s Pillow, followed by a two-week run at the Joyce in Chelsea, from July 10 to 22. The sixty-minute heavily political piece is partly adapted from Peter Handke’s 1966 play, Offending the Audience, about which the Austrian writer has explained, “I first intended to write an essay, a pamphlet, against the theatre, but then I realized that a paperback isn’t an effective way to publish an anti-theatre statement. And so the outcome was, paradoxically, doing something onstage against the stage, using the theatre to protest against the theatre of the moment — I don’t mean theatre as such, the Absolute, I mean theatre as a historical phenomenon, as it is to this day.” Naharin’s Virus, which debuted in 2001 and made its US premiere at BAM in the spring of 2002, features a percussive score of Arabic music by Shama Khader, Habib Allah Jamal, and Karni Postel, along with snippets of Barber, D’Alessio, Stokes, and Parsons.
The Young Ensemble consists of Chen Agron, Mourad Bouayad, Thibaut Eiferman, Ariel Gelbart, Londiwe Khoza, Kornelia Maria Tamara Lech, Ohad Mazor, Robin Lesley Nimanong, Evyatar Omessy, Igor Ptashenchuk, Roni Rahamim, Tamar Rosenzweig, Hani Sirkis, Xanthe van Opstal, Nicolas Ventura, and Paul Vickers. “Handke’s play is about the negation of the theater,” Naharin said in a BAM program note. “The direct, continuous appeal to the public turns the spectator’s mere presence, his self-awareness and his act of listening — into the main issue of the play. He glorifies the public — but means no praise, he scorns them — but means no offense. He contradicts himself. The play empties the stage of all expectations, of all theatrical conventions. A space, a void is created: It is there where my creation takes place!” There will be a Curtain Chat following the July 11 performance, and Young Ensemble rehearsal director Michal Sayfan will be teaching a two-hour master class at Gibney on July 20 ($20, 10:00 am).
Who: Will Rawls
What: High Line Performance Art
Where: On the High Line at Seventeenth St., Sunken Overlook
When: Tuesday, July 10, through Thursday, July 12, free with RSVP, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Why: Brooklyn-based choreographer, curator, writer, and performer Will Rawls will present the site-specific Will Rawls, Uncle Rebus on the High Line in the Sunken Overlook at Seventeenth St. and Tenth Ave. on July 10-12 from 6:00 to 8:00; admission is free, but advance RSVP is required. Rawls, who has performed with Shen Wei, Marina Abramović, Nicholas Leichter, Maria Hassabi, Tino Sehgal, Jérôme Bel, Noemie LaFrance, and others and is half of the performance art duo Dance Gang (with Kennis Hawkins), reimagines the controversial Uncle Remus narrator and his Brer Rabbit tales, joining Trinity Bobo, Stanley Gambucci, and Jasmine Hearn, in costumes by Eleanor O’Connell, as they use a custom keyboard to tell a rather different story in the form of a choreographed meditation on language, race, tradition, and the human body.
In November 2016, Canadian troubadour Leonard Cohen passed away at the age of eighty-two. The poet, singer-songwriter, novelist, and Zen monk left behind a six-decade legacy of investigating love and the human condition like no one else. In 1972, the year after Cohen released one of his masterpieces, Songs of Love and Hate, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal was founded, a company dedicated to merging classical dance with more contemporary styles. On July 6, the troupe will present the U.S. premiere of Dance Me at the Prospect Park Bandshell as part of the free BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. The eighty-minute piece was commissioned, prior to Cohen’s death, for Montreal’s 375th anniversary and debuted in Canada last December. Set to songs from throughout Cohen’s long career and organized around the cycles of existence as experienced through the changing seasons, Dance Me was conceived by BJM artistic director Louis Robitaille and is choreographed by Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Ihsan Rustem for fourteen performers, with musical direction by Martin Léon, scenic design by Pierre-Étienne Locas, lighting by Cédric Delorme-Bouchard and Simon Beetschen, video by Hub Studio (Gonzalo Soldi, Thomas Payette, and Jeremy Fassio), sound by Guy Fortin, and costumes by Philippe Dubuc. On December 20, 2012, Cohen played the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, opening the show with “Dance Me to the End of Love,” from his 1984 album Various Positions, in which he croons, “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin / Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in / Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove / Dance me to the end of love.” BJM’s Dance Me should lift the Brooklyn audience in the beautiful confines of Prospect Park.